Faithful Audio Drama: H.G. Wells' The Coming of the Martians
DISCLAIMER: This project is NOT affiliated with, sponsored, or in any way associated with the musical version of H. G. Wells' original 1898 novel. To avoid trade mark issues this project is using the alternative title "The Coming of the Martians" taken from Book One. Use of the artistic title "The War of the Worlds" to describe H. G. Wells' story does not imply any affiliation or endorsement with the musical and is within third-party use rights of EU trade mark law. (See Copyright & Trademark Notice, below)
We are now fully funded!
We would like to thank all of our backers so far and welcome those considering backing our exciting project! With only a few day still remaining there is enough time to reach our stretch goals...
- £9,000 - Limited Edition DVD packaging will be improved from a standard DVD case to a special imitation novel design hard-back booklet in a slip case. Something similar to this...
- £10,000 & Above - We will look into improving the CD releases, perhaps a Limited Edition print run for backers (see below). Any extra funding will first go towards further improvements to our releases and then acquiring much better equipment and facilities to make this production sound the best it can!
- We are considering an evening premiere of the 5.1 surround release at The Prince Charles Cinema. This would be a unique experience for an audio drama and we would love to see what the response is for such an evening. Backers of £75 or more would gain entry to this event for free. More details of this if we get above £15,000.
In 1897, author H. G. Wells wrote a science-fiction novel that would inspire countless modern stories within the genre for decades and still remains a source of artistic creativity to this day. Taking cues from historical events during the threat of war in Europe and the speculation of life on Mars at the the time, Wells created an interplanetary war story told in the first-person and in a real location. With this documentary style of writing, Wells described a realistic account of how invaders from Mars lay waste to southern England in a novel comprised of two books (Book I: The Coming of the Martians & Book II: Earth Under the Martians) under the main novel title The War of the Worlds.
This groundbreaking novel became an instant success placing fear into the hearts of children and adults the world over. In the 118 years since the novel was first serialized in Pearson's Magazine there have been numerous adaptations of Wells' original story in all kinds of media. Seven films, various radio dramas, graphic novels, television series and sequels or parallel stories all derived from the original text in some form.
The only issue with all of these adaptations is one of faithfulness to Wells' original story. Changes have included the tone and feel of the story, the geographical location, the Victorian time period in which the action is set, the fighting machine design, etc.
None of these adaptations have been truly faithful to H. G. Wells' original story; This is where we come in...
As huge fans of the original novel we are, like many others, disappointed with previous adaptations that have not remained faithful or presented it in such a way that the dark, often horrific tone and feel of Wells' original story becomes lost.
We intend to produce the definitive version of this wonderful classic science-fiction story as a cinematic audio drama faithfully adapted in the correct period from the original source; the 1898 novel. This will be achieved with a fantastic full cast of British actors, immersive sound design and chilling orchestral music all mixed in 5.1 surround sound from the outset.
What is a cinematic audio drama?
Unlike an audiobook that is narrated by a reader, our cinematic audio drama adaptation will sound just like a blockbuster film made only for your ears! With any visual adaptation you are always forced to see someone else's interpretation of imagery. We all conjure up our own individual images and pictures in our minds when reading Wells' story. Here audio drama excels over visual drama - with a great cast, a great score and our 5.1 surround sound 'cinematic' mix - you're immersed in the action, and, as they say: the sets really ARE better in your mind!
The faithfulness of the adaptation, the quality of the prospective cast, and the immersive quality of the production techniques are what separates this production from others! With your help, and your input, we will bring this chilling horrific sci-fi story to life in such a unique way that we hope reviewers the world over would consider it the most convincing, most faithful and technologically imaginative version to date.
There are 4 different ways you can hear the production. Each release going up the reward level will have more features and/or improved quality. The releases, from lowest reward to highest, are as follows:
- Digital download via Bandcamp (MP3, FLAC, ALAC, AAC, Ogg).
- 2-disc CD release with Dolby Pro Logic II surround sound encoded stereo.
- Limited Edition DVD (3000 copies) with up to DTS 5.1 surround sound + extras.
- Special Limited Edition USB (200 copies) with uncompressed 5.1 sound sound + exclusive extras.
The release date for all products is set for 2017. Backers will receive them first and then the general public one month later.
We want you, the wonderful fans of the original 1898 novel, to actually get involved rather than just backing us and waiting for your rewards!
Those of you backing this project at £40 or more will have your opinion heard and seriously considered on how any aspect of this adaptation's production should be interpreted to make for a truly faithful, definitive version. Although we can't offer any script samples at this time due to copyright, any suggestions on period details, sound design or how you saw the images in your mind when you first read the original novel are most welcome! We want it to sound and feel accurate.
We will not be taking on-board opinions relating to any other derivative works including radio broadcasts, films, musicals or stage productions. This is all about the original story as intended by the author of the original novel.
My name is Martin Johnson and I'm a professional audio drama producer, sound designer, audio editor and music composer.
H. G Wells' novel was one of the first books I read outside of school literature back in the 1980's. I had no idea that there were adaptations of the novel until I came across the Paramount television series and then the 1953 film. The film, although iconic and remaining one of my favorite classic sci-fi films, is far from faithful. As soon as I saw the fighting machines I thought to myself "Well, that's not right!", but what a brilliant design for its time.
From that early age, The War of the Worlds is something I have wanted to produce as a faithful audio drama with the dark tone and atmosphere the story deserves. It wasn't until I worked on Doctor Who that I began to take the idea seriously. However, I wanted to wait until my experience in the industry matured further and I had my own audio business so that the story could be adapted correctly and faithfully.
For the last 8 years, through my own business Everybodyelse Productions, I have provided post-production services on some of the best-regarded audio dramas in the UK.
I have worked with Big Finish on sound design, editing and music for the official BBC licenced Doctor Who audio adventures, with Bafflegab on The Scarifyers and with Hammer Films for their first entry in audio drama, Hammer Chillers.
In 2014, I successfully funded a Kickstarter project for my very own original cinematic audio drama, also mixed in 5.1 surround sound, called Osiris. The production received very positive reviews including a 7/10 rating from Starburst Magazine. The production also made the 'Best of 2014 in Science-Fiction Audio' in the British Science Fiction Association magazine, Vector. It was directed by Lisa Bowerman (Big Finish) and starred Christian Edwards (Doctor Who), Robert Whitelock (Hercules, Doctor Who), Liz White (The Woman in Black, Life on Mars) with guest stars Colin McFarlane (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight) and Georgia Moffett (Merlin, Doctor Who).
Below is a 7-minute sample of Osiris, which is Dolby Pro Logic II surround sound encoded, and a sample of the orchestral score. Please be aware that Osiris is a lot lighter in tone than 'The War of the Worlds' and these samples should only be used to get a feel for the minimum production quality expected of our project...
Unfortunately, we cannot disclose casting information until after our studio recording sessions are completed. This is due to contractual reasons. However, rest assured that we will be using a very talented full cast of British actors, most of who will be well known for their film, television and audio work. Actors are the staple of any drama and most of our budget will go towards casting.
For this big cinematic audio drama project I want to bring professionals into the mix that I have a wonderful working relationship with. Also, I wanted to reunite a great production team that is known for giving fans of the sci-fi genre the best possible interpretation of an adapted narrative.
We have a bare minimum funding target of £7,000.
This target is based on the costs of our previous production Osiris, for which only a third of the funding was via Kickstarter! We are also putting £1,555 of our own money into this project. This will cover our pre-production costs.
The funding breakdown looks like this:
- £1,555 Pre-Production Costs
- £3,700 2-Day Studio Recording Sessions with Actors & Director
- £1,250 2-Disc CD Manufacturing (First 1000 copies)
- £950 Limited Edition DVD Manufacturing (First 1000 copies of 3000)
- £1000 Special Limited Edition USB Box (200 copies only)
- £100 A3 Glossy Posters
Total Minimum Budget = £8,555
If funding exceeds £7,000 we have some very nice stretch goals in mind:
- £9,000 - Limited Edition DVD packaging will be improved from a standard DVD case to a special imitation novel design in a slip case.
- £10,000 & Above - We will look into improving the CD releases, perhaps a Limited Edition print run for backers. Any extra funding will first go towards further improvements to our releases and then acquiring much better equipment and facilities to make this production sound the best it can!
- We are considering an evening premiere of the 5.1 surround release at a London cinema. Backers of £75 or more would gain entry to this event for free. More details of this if we get above £15,000.
UK and EU Copyright
While the the copyright for H. G. Wells' original 1898 novel The War of the Worlds has expired throughout most of the world including the US, copyright is still in effect in the UK and across the EU until 31st December 2016. We will only be distributing Kickstarter rewards in 2017 when the copyright expires in the EU and the story enters the public domain in these territories.
We have previously attempted, in good faith, to gain a licence to release our product in EU territories before 2017. They rejected a licence agreement for a pre-2017 release and we accepted. On hearing that we will therefore wait until the copyright expires in the EU to release our product we were then told we cannot use of the original 1898 novel title "The War of the Worlds" because of their trade mark of the same wording.
We have, however, been informed by the producer of the musical version of the novel, who had been legally advised on our use of the story, that we are free to release our adaptation in 2017 when the copyright expires in the EU.
We have been legally advised that copyright infringement is not possible as long as we don't copy text from the novel in our campaign, which is an idea and exempt from such protection. In order for there to be infringement copying must have occurred and upon release in 2017 the remaining EU copyright will have expired and the novel will be public-domain. We must also state for legal purposes that Kickstarter is not a store! Backers contribute to a project because they support the cause of the creator and in exchange they receive a reward on a set delivery date.
EU Trade Mark Rights
This project is using the alternative title "The Coming of the Martians", created for Book One of the original novel by H. G. Wells, due to a trade mark issue .
Our third-party descriptive use of the title "The War of the Worlds" in reference to the 1898 novel by H. G. Wells is protected under EU Trade Marks Regulation 207/2009, Article 12(b) harmonized by the Directive 2008/95/EC, Article 6: 1(b) and any company attempting to assert their rights to prevent our release will be overreaching these legal limitations of trademark law.
Due to the above trade mark regulations, we have been legally advised that we do not require permission from the EU trade mark owner because there are no legal grounds to object to the use of "The War of the Worlds" in artistic reference to describe the original novel as the source of our adaptation.
So why is this? EU trademarks have legal limitations in relation to goods or services that allows third party use in the course of trade, provided the use is in accordance with honest practices in commercial matters. The use of "The War of the Worlds" to describe what we are adapting is legally valid under EU law because it is an indication concerning the characteristics and intended purpose of goods. We cannot commercially identify to consumers that the contents of our product is an adaptation of H. G. Wells' famous story without using the original 1898 title known throughout the world for the last 114 years! In essence, any referential use of the well established title of the public domain novel is inherently descriptive of the story. It cannot be disassociated from the novel and will not amount to confusion or suggest sponsorship from another company within the marketplace.
It is unfortunate that we have had to spend an entire year on researching the specific rights issues for this project and seek solid legal advice. As you can see from the work that went into this issue we want to make sure our life-long dream of a decent, incredibly faithful cinematic audio adaptation of the novel is realized with input from fans and admirers of the original 1898 story by H. G. Wells.
We would also like to let everyone know that if we have any further issues with the rights owner during our funding period for a product that will be released after rights expire we will simply move the project to the US, which is beyond copyright and trademark protection.
We truly believe in our production. We are focused on our vision! Now it is up to you...
Risks and challenges
While there are production challenges involved with such a project we have already gone through our very first cinematic audio production, Osiris, and picked up on all the issues that delayed the release.
The main issue was the release date, which was set just a 4 months after funding was successful. This was far too early for such a production and finding an available director we wanted to work with took a lot longer than anticipated, as did the surround sound editing process. With "The War of the Worlds" we have 15 months to produce what we intend to be the most faithful adaptation of H.G. Wells classic science-fiction novel.
Another issue with Osiris was that the funding target on Kickstarter was set far too low. This meant having to provide 70% of the budget ourselves, which was a struggle even after funding was successful because it is an original story, not something with an existing fan-base. This time we know exactly what to expect.
We are ready to produce something truly special and we have enough time to create an artistic work that I personally hope will be considered an incredible faithful interpretation by fans of the original novel.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (34 days)